The deeply upsetting news from Israel this week that several Jewish extremists are being held in connection with the murder of a Palestinian teenager should not be as shocking as it has been for many, particularly in this country.
By a 310-303 vote last week, a prominent American Protestant denomination made history. The Presbyterian Church, with about 1.8 million members, became the first major Christian group in this country to approve a resolution in favor of economic divestment from American businesses that make equipment that helps foster Israel’s occupation in the West Bank.
While an anxious Israeli society awaited word on the fate of three kidnapped teenagers this week, the government in Jerusalem talked tough but was constrained by the realities of the situation. And the terror group Hamas appears protected by a thin, artificial veneer of diplomatic respectability.
The office of the president of the State of Israel is largely symbolic, intended to unify the country and bring it enhanced stature. But from the outset the definition of the role, to “stand at the head of the state,” has been vague, leading critics to call for its abolishment on the grounds that it is unnecessary and costly.
The Israeli government is understandably upset with Washington’s decision to deal with the newly announced unity government formed by the Palestinian Authority and Hamas. The anger and frustration is based on Jerusalem’s leaders being taken by surprise by the move and because the U.S. could have and should have based its acceptance on Hamas reforming itself.